Looking back, and looking forward

I’ve really enjoyed this period of looking back at the blog, and hearing from co-bloggers. I’m so very grateful to Lady Day for organising it!

It’s prompted some reflections of my own. One thing it prompted me to do was to try to figure out when the blog started. I couldn’t actually work out how to make wordpress tell me, but I found this interesting one-year anniversary post, which told me that we started in May 2006. I do remember vividly what led me to start it: a conversation in the snow with Sally Haslanger, in which she urged me to start a blog and I resisted, insisting that I wasn’t the blogging type. I decided to go ahead because (a) I was already emailing links round to like-minded friends, and I thought I could put these on a blog, expecting it would only be those friends reading it; and (b) I thought some of my students might be the blogging type. I didn’t expect all that followed from this.

Pretty quickly, the reach of the blog defied my expectations. I expected maybe three readers and we were almost immediately up into the thousands, such was the hunger for something like this. Admittedly, not all of those were probably looking for a feminist philosophy blog (e.g. those who searched “loving wife spanking”, our most popular search in the first year). I’m pleased to say that our all-time greatest hits now include some important posts that weren’t just found by accident. Still, it’s not quite what I expected. Our number one post of all time is just a link to something someone else wrote. But number two is Red Eyed Tree Frog’s Christmas Trees Not So Harmless. The Gendered Conference Campaign comes in at number 7. And then we have a very large number of posts about incredibly bad behaviour in philosophy. I like to think we’ve done some good for the profession by calling attention to these.

Our blogging team also rapidly increased. At the start, it was just me, Stoat, and Monkey. By the end of the first year we had added Cornsay, Digivordig, Edna in the Sea, Heg, Introvertica, JJ, ProfBigK and Telbort. At the moment there are 40 names on the books. (I don’t even know for sure how many people they name!)

I think one of the blog’s greatest successes has been the Gendered Conference Campaign. This has, I think, helped to normalise the idea that people should notice the demographics of their invited speakers, and try to avoid homogeneity. It has been one factor among many helping to inspire similar campaigns in other fields, and additional ones in our own. But my happiest moment associated with this campaign was when it acquired a theme song.

I hope we’ve contributed in other ways: helping people, philosophers and non-philosophers alike, to find feminist philosophy; drawing attention to sexism, and other and overlapping prejudices, in philosophy; and, more generally, helping to build a community that could work together to improve our profession.

Back in the optimistic early days of blogging when we started, we thought we could manage comments with what I called the “be nice” rule. It sounds very feminine, but those who know me know that it’s a reference to the classic Patrick Swayze philosopher/bouncer movie Roadhouse. And of course if you know your classics you know that in addition to there being a time to be nice there’s also a time to be not-nice. The internet has become a complicated place, and figuring out the time to be nice and the time to be not-nice has revealed itself as beyond the abilities of even Dalton, world-famous bouncer with a degree in philosophy. We had many behind-the-scenes discussions about how to draw these lines, and couldn’t agree a clear way forward. But we felt we needed one if we were to continue. That’s no small part of why this blog is ending.

People have asked what I will do next. Which is odd, since it’s not like blogging was my profession and now I need to find a new job. But anyway… I’ve been thinking a lot about my deeply held view that online discussions of difficult issues are currently toxic to the point of being counterproductive. One thing I am trying to figure out is what we can do instead– how to have productive, inclusive discussions of difficult issues. I’ve got some ideas, and I’m trying things out. But I’m not going to discuss them online– not now, anyway.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what all of the FP bloggers and readers do next. There are so many more places and ways to do feminist philosophy online now, and there’s a vast community out there to do it.

Closing down FP

Feminist Philosophers will soon be ceasing to have new content, but we’ll be keeping old posts up so folks can access them. There are lots of reasons for this. On the positive side, the landscape for feminist and anti-oppression philosophers has dramatically changed during the years we’ve been blogging. There’s just so much more going on on, online and off, that this blog is not nearly so needed– there are lots of places to go to find out about this stuff and engage with like-minded folks. There’s also the general cultural shift from blogs to social media. Blogs still exist, but a lot of what they used to do is now done on social media. But it would be deceptive to say these were the only reasons. You’ve probably noticed that in recent times only a few of us have been posting– we’re all more and more busy and less able to blog. But again, that’s not the whole story. Many of us, myself included, have become increasingly pessimistic about the potential for internet-based discussions of difficult issues to help us make philosophical and real-world progress. And if I don’t think blogs are a good place to discuss stuff, it becomes a little odd to keep a blog going. Not all of us agree with this, and there may be spin-off blogs by some of our more optimistic members, which we’ll link to. But this site will soon no longer be hosting blog posts. I feel OK about this, and really good about what we’ve accomplished, but I think the time for this blog is now past and we’ve all got other projects underway.

Over the next week or so, we’ll have some posts reflecting on what we’ve done. We hope you’ll enjoy them!

CFP: The Future of Inclusion

Annual Conference
The Future of Inclusion
26th Annual Meeting of Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World

July 18th-23th, 2019 at University of Central Arkansas

Conway, AR, U.S.A.


We invite submissions for the 26th-annual meeting of the Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World (SPCW) to be held July 18th-23rd, 2019 at the University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR. While we welcome and encourage papers on any topic related to philosophy in the contemporary world (broadly construed), of particular interest are papers that engage with this year’s theme: the future of inclusion.

Given much of US and global public discourse on ideological polarization, identity politics, tribalism, and divisive political actions, it seems necessary and important for contemporary philosophers to address the question: What is the Future of Inclusion?

We welcome papers on all topics, from any and all philosophical traditions. SPCW is especially interested in, and invites contributions by those from historically underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds, as well as anyone working to expand the scope and quality of philosophical discourses beyond the conventional canon. In addition to traditional papers and presentations, SPCW welcomes diverse formats such as spoken word, script readings, performances, and other approaches that invite and broaden philosophical reflection. Hence, in addition to established philosophers, we welcome the fellowship of graduate students, nontraditional philosophers, and persons with other non-philosophical specializations. We aim to provide the atmosphere for a genuinely positive and supportive exchange of views.

Topics to be addressed could include (but are not limited to):

Altruism and Empathy
Assessing Bias and Prejudice in 2019: Failures, Successes, Future Directions
Being at Home in the World: Interpersonally, Socially, Spiritually
Democracy, Diversity, and Recognition
Entitlement: Ethical and Political Issues
Epistemology and Phenomenology of Belonging
Epistemology, Neurology, and Psychology of Generative People
Global Citizenship and/or Global Human Rights
Making People Count in Immigration Policy
Nonviolence and Resistance to Oppression
Policing (and Incarcerating) Black Men
Remaking Meanings of Manhood and Masculinity
Reviving Civic Culture and Social Capital
The Right to Have Rights
Tolerance: Moral Virtue and Political Necessity
White Fragility: Why Whites Can’t Talk about Race
Afrofuturism and the Philosophy of Science
Can we have a responsible Ethics of Hope?
Moral Guilt or Responsibility: How Should We Respond to Ethical Failure
Inclusive Feminism and the Critique of White Feminism
The Future of Sexual Politics
Accountability, Reparations, and the Philosophy of Healing
Posthumanism and Radical Inclusivity
Becoming Ecologically Inclusive: Interdependency, the Environment, and the Future of Climate Change
Becoming Technologically Inclusive: Does the Future of Inclusion Lead Us to Cyborg Ethics?
Agonistic Politics and the Future of Democracy
Inclusion in the Public Sphere
The Revolution Will Be Accessible: Inclusivity and Disability
Neurodiversity, Neuroplasticity, and the Future of Philosophy of Mind
Liberation, Resistance, and Forerunners of Social Justice
HIV, AIDS, and Sero-Positivity in Philosophical Perspectives
Social Philosophy and the Limits of the Ideal, Nonideal, Possible, and Feasible
Racial Justice, Anti-racism, and Liberatory Intersections

Standard submissions: papers with a maximum length of 3,500 words, and an abstract of 100 words or less. Alternative presentation and creative proposals will be given consideration. All submissions circulated for double-anonymous peer-review.

Submissions are due April 1, 2019
Authors will be notified by May 6, 2019

The Journal: Philosophy in the Contemporary World welcomes submissions from conference participants. There are two ways to submit your conference work to the journal. First, once you’ve edited and expanded your presentation, submit directly to the journal via our email at pcweditors@gmail.com. We will use your successful conference acceptance as one of two blind reviews in our review process. The second way to submit your conference work includes submitting to a special volume. In the past, we’ve enjoyed publishing some excellent special issues reflective of conference highlights. In order to make this process work, we ask that conference participants work together to identify a potential guest editor for the special edition. This guest editor may then contact potential contributors, and ultimately propose a set of thematically linked articles.

Note to graduate students: SPCW considers all accepted graduate student papers for the annual Joe Frank Jones III Memorial Award for the best graduate student submission.

Send submissions prepared for anonymous review including a separate title page identifying the paper title, author name(s), institutional affiliation, and contact email using https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfsMvJhskWn2N7zKZ9ZMR0vhrT03-_MzQGpXCa-RMaz41o1eg/viewform.

If needed, you can also submit via email by sending the information to : Taine Duncan at tduncan@uca.edu or Paul Churchill at robert.paul.churchill@gmail.com.

Conference Site and Accommodations
Questions about the conference site, lodging, registration and other details should be sent to:

Taine Duncan at tduncan@uca.edu or Christian Matheis at matheiscg@guilford.edu

Linda Alcoff on survivor testimony

A powerful article, making really important points. (It does include several descriptions of sexual violence.)

Consistency is complex, of course. There is no real inconsistency in having contradictory feelings toward a flawed human being. In the Patrick Melrose novels, based on the life of their English author Edward St Aubyn, and their 2018 TV adaptation, the protagonist expresses tenderness and sympathy toward the father who raped him, while in another moment he delights in his death. This is what it means to be human.

We needn’t jettison consistency entirely – but we should be careful about using it as a litmus test of credibility. Otherwise, important questions about which details truly matter, and about the causes of inconsistency, will all be lost.

Read the article.

“Host bodies”

Florida House Speaker José Oliva actually referred to pregnant women as “host bodies” during a sit-down with Jim DeFede of CBS Miami about an anti-abortion bill.

It wasn’t a simple slip of the tongue, either – Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, referred to pregnant women as “host bodies” five times throughout the interview.

Read on.

Helen De Cruz on how to create better philosophical communities

“How then do we expand efforts for inclusiveness to academic philosophy more broadly? To make academic philosophy more demographically representative of the broader societies where it is situated we need to look at the underlying factors that have given rise to these patterns. It’s vital to accept that academic philosophy, like other academic disciplines, is not a meritocracy. Pretending that it is makes things worse for people who find themselves at the periphery. It is an invidious form of denialism – which is, of course, the first and most effective way of enabling injustice.”

Now read about her suggestions for how to improve on this.